Saturday, February 2, 2013

REVIEW: Starting Seeds by Barbara W. Ellis


Growing plants from seeds isn’t difficult; it just takes a little know-how. Now, gardeners of any experience level can get a jump on the growing season with this concise, straightforward guide. Expert gardener Barbara Ellis provides the basic information that you need and teaches you foolproof starting techniques for a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (January 15, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1612121055
ISBN-13: 978-1612121055

About the Author

Barbara Ellis is an experienced and knowledgeable gardener and former Rodale editor. She has several books to her credit, including Covering Ground, The Veggie Gardener’s Answer Book, Deckscaping, and Shady Retreats. She lives in Kent County, Maryland.

My Thoughts

I have tried growing vegetables and fruit before, without luck. I've tried growing plants in the summer as they recommend. I've tried growing from seed in little peat pots and starting mix, only to have the little seedlings die after a couple of weeks.

Well, I think I've figured out part of the trouble. I was following general instructions, which talk about the ideal growing season being the summer. Trouble is...I live in Florida. I've come to realize that it's just too stinkin' hot down here to grow anything in the summer! Our ideal growing times are fall and spring, with a lot of our growing happening in the winter as well.

So I decided to try my hand once again, this time with the help of Starting Seeds by Barbara Ellis. It is chock full of good information for beginners wanting to learn about growing from seed. One tip: don't include garden soil with potting soil when growing from seed.
Avoid adding ordinary garden soil to potting mixes used to germinate seeds or grow seedlings, because it contains fungi and other organisms that can cause rot and other diseases.
I also learned about self-watering seed starters, which would probably have saved me last time I tried growing herbs from seed. I simply could not keep the peat pots properly moist, and my seedlings didn't survive.

There are lots of great lists included, like "Easy Vegetables for Starting Indoors", "Easy Annuals for Starting Indoors", and "Easy Vegetables to Direct Sow". 

I learned about "special-needs seeds" that may need things like "scarification" in order to have success in germinating them.

You also learn how to test seeds for viability, and how to pregerminate, which are both basically the same processes.

I have some old seeds I won back in 2008 and never used (due to my poor success in trying to grow something from seed), and I didn't know whether they'd still be any good. So I decided to test some of them. I followed the instructions in this book for germinating the seeds in damp paper towels to look for signs of sprouting.

And after about 10 days, I had a great success rate with my beans and peas, as well as some tomato sprouts.

So I had to ask myself: what now? What do I do with all of these sprouted seeds? I hated to just throw them away. So, although it was a little early down here for beans and peas, and a little late for tomatoes, I decided to go ahead and try potting them.

I stuck two bean sprouts on the sides of this window box, and I put bean seeds across the back and pea seeds across the front.

And this was that pot a couple of days ago. Success!

I was curious to see how the sprouts would compare to the seeds directly sowed. They are only slightly bigger. (I know I probably have too many plants in too small a space, but this is all an experiment for me at this point. However these plants are all "dwarf" plants.)

I also put some various bean and pea sprouts across the back of one of my deck planters, along with some Brandywine Tomato sprouts that I stuck around the outside of my tomato cage. This was them about a week ago.

The Brandywine Tomatoes are getting larger.

So I picked up a lot of great tips from this book, and so far I'm having success. I have some lettuce seeds pregerminating right now, although it is the end of our lettuce growing season, so I don't know what kind of luck I will have. But at least I am learning which of my old seeds seem to still be viable. Today I will try potting radishes, sunberry and my lettuce sprouts.

This book also has some great resource links in the back, including a website which shows pictures of common weeds, to help you figure out what are veggie and flower seedlings, and what are weeds.

My final word:

Looking to learn more about growing from seed? Pick this book up today!

Buy Now:

My Rating:


I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ in the actual published version.

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